Best of 2003

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Fri Jan 2 14:14:03 EST 2004

  Um.  I have trouble remembering what I read this year or last year or
whenever, so this is going to be a bit random - and possibly inaccurate. :-)

  Book I liked most that I expected to like:  Probably "The Merlin
Conspiracy", but Bujold's Chalion books would be a close second.  In the
first case...well, hey, it's DWJ!  I liked both POV characters (and
disliking one of two or more POV characters can be a real problem for me:
"oh no, we're not back to this twerp again, are we?") and loved the
storyline.  And she didn't hurry over the climax as she sometimes does.  In
the second case, great characters and a truly brilliant, IMO, religious
sytem.  And you don't see many writers letting their gods get that
up-close-and-personal - not as successfully as I think Bujold managed,
anyway.  (It's given me a lot of ideas for something I'm currently writing,
in which at least one god needs to be pretty up-close-and-personal.)

  Book I liked most that I didn't expect to be that enamoured of:  "Elsie
Dinsmore", by Martha Finley.  This is a 19th century Very Moral Tale - and
19th century Christian Moral to boot.  While I like 19th century fiction in
general, as a pagan I didn't expect to much enjoy something so overtly
Christian, but in fact it was quite an entertaining read, if somewhat

  Pre-20th century book I liked most:  "The Wandering Jew", by Eugene Sue.
Enormously long, cast of thousands (okay, dozens), but gripping and equipped
with just about everything - romance, adventure, espionage, violence, the
supernatural, heroism, betrayal, strong sense of place, engaging
characters...great stuff!

  Pre-20th century book I liked least:  "The Governess", by Sarah Fielding
(I think).  Picked it up because it's considered the first ever school
story.  Dropped it in disgust because it's not only A Moral Tale, but deadly
dull with it.

  Favourite re-read:  "The Blue Castle", by L. M. Montgomery.  Unashamedly
soppy romance, but full of the most wonderful characters, and with a *very*
engaging heroine.  Closely followed by "The Little White Horse" by Elizabeth
Goudge (thanks, Minnow!), which turned out to be every bit as charming as I
dimly remembered it being.

  Favourite non-spec-fic:  "Patriot Games", by Tom Clancy.  I've only just
started reading Clancy, and was agreeably surprised by his storytelling
skill.  And unlike some thrillers I've read, this one didn't suffer too much
from "I've suffered for my art, so now you will too" - in other words, pages
and pages of deadly dull techno-dumps.

  Favourite now-I've-finally-got-hold-of-a-non-abridged-copy:  "Jo of the
Chalet School" (you all knew I was going to get school stories in here
somehow!), by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer.  No major cuts, but lots of small
details turned up that really added to the atmosphere of the story.

  Least favourite now-I've-finally-got-hold-of-a-non-abridged-copy:  "The
Lost Prince" by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I still like the story, but what
was cut was well cut, IMO.  I did not need an extra chapter of Eastern
Mysticism, reported at second-hand.

  Favourite non-fiction:  Has to be "Eats, Shoots and Leaves".  But I'm
currently engrossed in "The Dreadful Judgement", by someone whose name I
can't remember, which is all about the Great Fire of London, and quite
fascinating, so that one gets the number two slot.

  Okay, now I've run out of categories, or books that I want to find
categories for.

  Yay for free electronic books, I say!

  Until the sky falls on our heads...

  Dorian E. Gray
  israfel at

  "[My rule] for keeping my temper in order, is never to leave it too long
with another person."
  - Horace Walpole

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